Legal Memorandum: Temporary Spousal Maintenance in MN

Issue: Under Minnesota law, what is the standard for an award of temporary spousal maintenance?

Area of Law: Family Law
Keywords: Award of temporary spousal maintenance; Unable to provide adequate self-support; Lacks sufficient property
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 366 N.W.2d 340; 399 N.W.2d 230; 414 N.W.2d 184; 514 N.W.2d 260; 417 N.W.2d 300; 445 N.W.2d 849; 353 N.W.2d 135; 411 N.W.2d 263
Cited Statutes: Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 1 (1999), § 518.552, subd. 1(a)-(b); Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd.2 (1999)
Date: 04/01/2000

           Temporary spousal maintenance is not guaranteed to a party in a dissolution proceeding, but is instead awardable only if the court finds that there is entitlement to the funds.  Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 1 (1999).  Before awarding spousal maintenance the court must find that the spouse seeking the payments either “lacks sufficient property, including marital property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for reasonable needs of the spouse” or that the spouse is “unable to provide adequate self-support” through appropriate employment.  Id. § 518.552, subd. 1(a)-(b).  The needs and requirements of the spouse must be viewed in light of the “standard of living established during the marriage.”  Id.  A spouse may also be entitled to maintenance payments if he or she is the custodian of a child and the circumstances warrant that the custodian “not be required to seek employment outside the home.”  Id. § 518.522, subd. 1(b). 

An award of temporary spousal maintenance is “based on the assumption that the party receiving the award not only should strive to obtain suitable employment and become self-supporting but that he or she will attain that goal.”  Nardini v. Nardini, 414 N.W.2d 184, 198 (Minn. 1987)*FN1.  In Nardini the court found that a spouse was entitled to maintenance where she had been unemployed in the outside world, working as a homemaker, for a period of twenty-nine years prior to the marriage dissolution. 414 N.W.2d at 197.  She had a high school education, […]

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